Tuesday, September 1, 2009

sew your own!

Remember these trees I posted about a while back? Well, thanks to two interested commenters (thanks Daisie and Lofipi!) I decided to make a little tutorial for them so that you can, should you want to, grow sew your own!
This is a really simple and quick project so don't be put off by the possibly excessive number of photos - I was trying to be thorough!

All you will need to make this is:

* a small piece of hessian
(recycle a sack or get it in any fabric shop or upholsterers - I was amazed at my local shop's hessian range, yes, RANGE!)
*some wool/yarn in browns and whatever colours you want for your treetops
*a needle
*a pair of little scissors
(nail scissors would work if you don't have fancy sewing scissors like mine)
First of all, cut your hessian into a square or rectangle using the strands as a guide to keep the edges nice and neat. This particular square measures about 10cm on each side but you can make it pretty much whatever size you like.
Starting about one quarter of the way up your hessian piece, use your little sharp scissors to cut the horizontal strands up to about the halfway point. (The more strands you cut through, the taller your trunks will be.) Cut them in between two of the vertical strands, which you can use as a guide to keep you straight and parallel to the side. You'll want to do this at least a few cm in from the side of your piece.
Cut the same horizontal strands (just look along the line made by the strands to see where to start and stop cutting) at the opposite side of your hessian piece, the same distance in from the edge. You'll end up with two vertical slits, as in the picture above.

As a rough guide for size, allow about five vertical strands for each tree trunk, so if you want to make three trees, make the two slits about 15 strands apart, for five trees, make them about 25 strands apart etc. You don't need to be too precise about that, as you'll see when we get to the making of the trunks :)
See these exposed ends of the horizontal strands?
You want to grab hold of them, one at a time, and pull them out sideways. You could use tweezers but it's easy enough to grab them... as long as you don't have big sausage fingers, that is!
Your hessian square should now look something like this. You'll also probably be covered in bits of hessian. I wish I hadn't used my good black vest as a background for these photos...
Cut yourself a length of brown wool and tie it round the base of a few of vertical strands, knotting it at what is going to be the back. Anything from three to seven strands (maybe even more?) works fine. Leave a little tail on your wool.
Start wrapping the wool round and round and round... Work your way up what will be the first trunk, covering the tail from your wool as you go. You can stop when you get to top, or do a few layers, but finish at the top of the trunk. When you're done, tie the wool at the back of the trunk and trim off the excess, leaving a little tail again. We'll sort that out later.
Do the same thing for the other trunks. It looks nice if you vary the trunks' thickness and use a variety of wools. Something nice and bobbly/lumpy would probably work really well. I didn't have anything like that, myself.
This is the front view of your finished trunks. Now it's time to choose the colour for your leafy tree tops!
I was planning to do a nice autumnal scene, given that it's now September (what? already?) but...
... I was distracted from that plan by these lovely blues.
I always start with the middle tree because the trees overlap and I like the middle one to be the one in front. You need to tie quite a big knot on the end of the wool so that it doesn't slip between the gaps in the hessian, then you just start sewing from the back. I sew over the tail from the trunk as I go.
You can use whatever sort of stitch you like to make the leafy tree tops, really, and the wool is pretty forgiving, especially if you are using quite thick stuff. I've tried doing more fancy/proper embroidery stitches but you can't really see it properly once it's done anyway.
If you're using quite a thick wool, you can just leave it loose and loopy at the front, like in the picture above. Just keep sewing loops until your treetop is the size and shape you want it to be then...
... stitch/weave in the end on the back of your tree.
Then make a start on tree number two. For this one I just did lot of simple, short overlapping stitches, going in lots of different directions.
For this third tree, I backstitched a triangular outline and filled it in with straight horizontal rows of backstitch. Honestly, stitch them in whatever haphazard way takes your fancy - you cannot go wrong!
Once you've finished stitching, there might be a few strands coming loose at the edges. It's not a problem. Just pull a few strands out on each side (see below) for a frayed effect, or give it a quick trim.
Voila! Your very own trees to... do whatever you fancy with?
I hope that all made sense. Let me know if you do make any. I'd love to see them!


  1. Brilliant, thanks Laura!!

    I am currently half way through knitting a hat and rubbing my tummy (have very bad belly ache today.........?) but when I'm done I am doing trees! Lots of luverly trees and maybe even some christmas ones?


  2. Yeah, I was thinking there was a missed christmas opportunity in there somewhere...? Let me know how your trees turn out and I hope your tummy feels better soon x

  3. Really cute. I'd like to try this sometime. Thanks.

  4. Aw theses are lovely! Simple and perfect, well done miss donald ;-)


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